Some of you may know that I have lived in Spain a very long time, basically almost my entire life aka 16 years. I lived in a little town near Malaga, in the very south of Spain. When I lived there the only thing I wanted was to get out of there, to me it was literal hell (okay maybe not that bad). But this was because we lived in the middle of nowhere (that is not an exaggeration), and if I wanted to walk to the nearest town (emphasis on town) I had to walk one and a half hour, so of course I wasn’t going to that every time I went (I did do it a couple of times, but especially in the summer it isn’t really advisable). Cycling anywhere there is dangerous because cars do not notice or take account of you at all. So the only option was to ask my parents to take me anywhere, or ask my parents to take me to the bus (which also isn’t the greatest adventure since sometimes it could come early, extremely late, think an hour and a half later, or not come at all).
But despite all my efforts to complain about Spain as much as I can, I do have to admit that it is extremely beautiful. Driving home in the evening in the dark and seeing all the lights from my town and all the towns next to it. Arriving with the plane and seeing all the beautiful mountain ranges from above. The view when you stand on top of a mountain. So, admittedly, Spain has his beauties. That’s why in this post, I want to tell you some places in Malaga (I am talking about the province here, but mostly they will not be more than an hour and a half drive from the city centre), that you should definitely visit, from an insider.
El chorro & Caminito del Rey
Approx 1 h 15 min drive
One of the most beautiful natural lakes I have probably ever been to is El Chorro. This place is probably best to visit during the summer. Although you can always have a walk in the mountain and visit el caminito during the winter, but I’ll get to that later. It is a gigantic lake where you can swim, have a picnic, and just really spend the entire day. We always make it a day trip, bring some food to eat there (there is a restaurant with a beautiful view over the lake if you fancy), don’t forget the swimming suits and flip flops and you’re ready for a day packed full of fun. There is also an option to rent a kanu (I really did not know that you spelled it that way) or a peddle boat with a slide. We have done that a couple of times and it really is loads of fun. Do be weary to leave all your valuables in the car and not on the land whilst you go out on the boat.
El caminito del Rey used to be one of the most dangerous walks in the entire world. It always used to come up in those lists that were titled: most dangerous walks in the world or most dangerous bridges to cross in the world. I used to be all proud that I used to live so close to such a phenomenon. But now they have restored it all, and thankfully so, because walking there is so amazing. The views are incredible. If you’ve never heard of the Caminito del Rey you’re probably wondering why it was such a dangerous path to walk. Well, during the walk there is a small part where you walk in the mountains. Yet the main attraction is of course the platform you walk on that is built directly next to the slope. It’s a little hard to understand but you can see in the photos. Whereas now the platform is wide enough to fit three people walking through and has been heavily secured with a railing, it used to be the complete opposite. It used to be a one metre (if that) path, where people would have to walk through both ways. There was no railing, some bits were missing and sometimes it was not against the slope, because it was a crossing, imagine how scary that must have been (See the last picture). It was originally built as a pathway for workers in 1900, but by the end of the 20th century civilians were using it as a pleasurable walk. As you can imagine, a lot of people died up there due to there not being any security and there actually being a lot of gaps in it. If you want to walk on it now you need not worry. Everything there is left to worry about now is you getting enough photos of the beautiful views. It is quite high so maybe if you’re scared of heights you think this might not be for you, but I urge you to (if you don’t have severe scared of heights of course) still do it. Both my mum and my aunt are scared of heights and they are so glad that they did because there is really nothing like it. Also some of the path goes through the mountains, the only place where it is scarier is on the bridge to cross, but again, everything is so secure now.
Christmas lights in Calle Larios
This is obviously something you have to go around Christmas time to see, but if you do decide to come during Christmas make sure to pop in the centre of the city to enjoy the lights. Last year, me and my boyfriend were strolling around there and suddenly Christmas songs started playing very loudly. Apparently every evening the Christmas lights do like a little ‘dance’ (can Christmas lights dance?) and you hear a load of Christmas songs and it is just the most magical thing. Make sure to check out the old city centre whilst you’re there and visit all the small boutiques, maybe treat yourself to a real Spanish flamenco dress! Hell, you might even be surprised by a flamenco performance in the city square, the group might even be led by my previous dance teacher, Ana 😉
Approx 1 h 30 min drive
Ronda is a very beautiful typical Spanish town a bit further inwards. The town is situated next to a gorge and the town is best known for it’s bridge. Whilst standing on that bridge the views are incredible, but it’s also possible to walk down through the ‘cave’ in the bridge to get to the bottom, which is also lots of fun. After, you can walk around the small streets of Ronda and experience the Spanish culture to eventually sit down and have dinner in a small Spanish restaurant.
Approx 50 min drive
If you’re going to Malaga in the summer and you need somewhere else to go swimming, you should visit Barranco Blanco. It used to be a real hidden treasure hidden in between the mountains, in recent years more people have discovered it but mostly locals so it’s not really touristic yet, thankfully. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s the perfect place to spend the day, bring a picnic basket with lots of food and spend the day swimming and climbing. Fun fact: I used to have horseriding lessons very close to there, and we used to ride through the mountains and the views were insane.
San Juan is not a place (or maybe it is but I’m not referring to that). In Spain it’s also a festive day and it’s celebrated on the 23rd of june. The tradition is to sleep on the beach and make a fire, a lot of kids then jump over the fire but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I just think it’s an amazing time to spend with friends (with some drinks) enjoying the beach at night. It’s the only time of the year you are actually aloud to sleep on the beach. Oh, and don’t worry about the cold or anything, it doesn’t really go under 20-25 degrees Celsius in the summer, but I would advise to maybe bring a sleeping bag. Tents are not usual, they’re too big and the magic is sleeping under the stars. Don’t expect to be getting much sleep though, and please do tidy up after yourself, as the beaches are absolutely full of plastic in the morning, which kind of ruins the magical feeling.
Feria can be translated to fair, but it’s so different to the fairs in England or Holland. In Spain, at the Costa at least, there’s a fair passing every town, how small or big, during the summer time. For example, the town where I lived, the feria comes at the end of June, and the feria in Malaga is in the middle of August. You have the typical fair rides, with the swinging boat, the superman and loads more sickening (literally) rides. But the difference there, is there are ‘casetas’, and if you’re there, you have to go in one. It’s essentially a big open ‘house’ where there’s a stage and normally a bar, sometimes also a restaurant. Throughout the night there will be performances on the stage, typically flamenco dancers or Spanish singers. There are also plenty of disco tents, but for the real Spanish feels, definitely visit the more normal ones. Be prepared to stay up late though, because it’s not like it starts early. Typically everything will start around 11 o’clock, of course you can come earlier, but there won’t be many people. And it goes on until very late at night. A lot of people walk around in flamenco dresses and bring their children with them at night (yes, we are still as astounded by that as you), but overal it’s definitely something to want to have experienced.
Something that you don’t yet know about me is that I used to dance flamenco, for seven years. Typical if you’re in such a dance group is that you also perform, and yes you guessed it, I used to perform at the feria of my town in the summer. I still have the dresses in Spain, which are way to small for me now of course but I could never throw them away.